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ESPN’s Marty Smith will serve as nightly grand marshal in Venice

OCEAN CITY, NJ – An ESPN reporter with ties to Ocean City has been selected to serve as Grand Marshal of this summer’s Night in Venice boat parade, city officials announced.

Reporter and host Marty Smith, an Ocean City homeowner, will be joined by family members for the 69th anniversary celebration of the summer event. This year’s theme is ‘Summertime Vibes: A Tribute to Jimmy Buffett’. Read more: Night In Venice will honor Jimmy Buffett this summer in Ocean City

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For nearly two decades, Smith has been a recognizable presence on ESPN, delivering in-depth interviews, vulnerable stories, game broadcasts and breaking news on every ESPN platform and in nearly every major sport, including college football and basketball, the NFL, NBA, NASCAR and IndyCar, Formula 1, the horse racing Triple Crown, including the Kentucky Derby, the Masters Tournament and the PGA Tour. He co-hosts “Marty & Mcgee” weekly on the SEC Network, where he and co-host Ryan McGee combine sports with Southern culture, pop culture, news and nostalgia. Smith’s 2019 memoir, “Never Settle: Sports, Family and the American Soul,” is a New York Times bestseller. His latest book, “Sideline CEO: Leadership Principles from Championship Coaches,” has become a standard on the national leadership and motivational speaking circuit.

Smith’s wife of 24 years, Lainie (Cocozza), is a native of Ocean City, a 1995 graduate of Ocean City High School and Miss Night In Venice in 1995. The Smiths live in Lake Norman, North Carolina, and have three children, Cambron (18), Mia (15) and Vivian (12). Every June, the Smith family makes the trek north to return to Ocean City, where they spend the entire summer vacation season at America’s Greatest Family Resort.

“It’s great that the Smith family has such close ties to Ocean City, and I’m honored to have Marty as our grand marshal for this year’s Night in Venice,” said Mayor Jay Gillian. “They will feel completely at home on the water during this summer’s spectacular event.”

The themed boat parade and decorated house competition on the bay offer a chance to be part of the highlight of the summer season in Ocean City. Thousands of spectators line the bay, and thousands more attend private parties at homes along the route from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to Tennessee Avenue. The parade starts at 6:30 PM. A fireworks display will illuminate the bay and conclude the festivities on July 20.

Free shuttle transportation will be available and free bleachers will be set up at street sides along the route. ACME Markets and OCNJ Watersports present sponsors for this year’s Night in Venice. For more information about joining or attending the event, visit www.ocnj.us/niv or call 609-399-6111.